John Edwards brings blue collar voters to Barack Obama

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John Edwards, the former Democratic candidate and champion of organised labour, on Wednesday endorsed Barack Obama, thereby hoping to neutralise the fall-out from Hillary Clinton’s crushing victory in West Virginia on Tuesday night.

By Edward Luce in Washington

Mr Obama went down to a massive 41 point margin defeat in West Virginia with the state’s largely blue collar Democratic base flocking to Mrs Clinton. Mr Edwards, whose wife Elizabeth had earlier raised doubts about whether her husband would back Mr Obama after she attacked his healthcare plan and spoke favourably of Mrs Clinton’s rival plan, had been seen as the strongest blue-collar candidate before dropping out.

In getting his endorsement, Mr Obama may also win over a majority of Mr Edwards’ elected delegates although he cannot instruct them which way to vote.

Wednesday’s announcement, which was Mr Obama’s most high profile endorsement since Ted Kennedy, the Massachusetts senator backed him in February, will add to the pressure on Mrs Clinton to drop out. In the last week Mr Obama has picked up the endorsement of almost thirty superdelegates – the unelected Democratic officials who will ultimately decide the nomination. Mrs Clinton has picked up just two.

Mrs Clinton has vowed to continue her campaign at least until June 3, when the final two states of South Dakota and Montana have their say. Since her defeat to Mr Obama in North Carolina last week and her narrow victory in Indiana, some have detected a softening of Mrs Clinton’s criticisms of Mr Obama and a redirection of her fire onto John McCain, the Republican nominee.

However, few believe it is likely that Mr Obama would willingly offer Mrs Clinton a place on his ticket given all the bitterness that has built up between their two campaigns. While opinion polls show that 14 per cent of Americans would not want a black man as president, 18 per cent of Americans say they would not want a woman in the White House.

The Financial Times

Obama running for the White House  The senator of Illinois is currently running for the White House but first of all he has to win the Primaries
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